FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (CBS) – Today, the NFL will host a private workout for former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, granting all 32 teams an opportunity to scout and interview the 32-year-old as part of his attempt to return to football.
Kaepernick hasn’t played in the NFL since January 2017, long since contending that his former on-field protests and ongoing off-field social activism led to teams blacklisting him from the league. But roughly nine months after settling his lawsuit against the NFL alongside current Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid, the free agent is set to showcase his skills for a chance at a comeback, as first reported by ESPN.
All 32 teams will reportedly be sent video of Kaepernick’s workout and interview session, but in advance of the event, several franchises are already making plans to check in on the ex-Niners standout. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, more than 24 NFL teams are now expected to attend the workout — which only leaves a few teams that are not interested. We know one of the teams not attending is the Dallas Cowboys, who actually were one of the first teams to reportedly commit to attending the workout, but Jerry Jones refuted this during an appearance on 105.3 The Fan on Friday, according to The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Here’s a complete rundown of which teams will reportedly send scouts to the workout:
The Cardinals are likely to be represented at the Kaepernick showcase, according to ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss.
It doesn’t take a neurosurgeon to know Arizona isn’t looking for a starter. They just drafted Kliff Kingsbury favorite Kyler Murray with the No. 1 overall pick, and the rookie has been electrifying at times in 2019. But the only other QB on their roster is Green Bay Packers castoff Brett Hundley, who will be a free agent after the season.
Head coach Dan Quinn has insisted the Falcons had nothing to do with scheduling Kaepernick’s workout, which will take place in their own stadium, comparing the situation to the Indianapolis Colts hosting the scouting combine, but ProFootballTalk reported Wednesday the team “will have someone at their facility” to observe.
The Falcons obviously have no need for a starting QB, with Matt Ryan three years removed from a Super Bowl start and just one year into a five-year, $150 million extension. But it’s not like they’ve got any other long-term options at the position. Backup Matt Schaub is the only other QB under contract, and he’ll be 39 in 2020.
The Bengals “will be evaluating” — and, thus, presumably attending — Kaepernick’s workout, according to Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
If ever there were a team with an incentive to take a swing at Kaepernick, it might be Cincy. The team has already all but moved on from longtime starter Andy Dalton, recently benching the 32-year-old for rookie Ryan Finley in a not-so-subtle push for better 2020 draft picks, and the offensive-minded Zac Taylor, who’s now 0-9 to start his head-coaching career, will assuredly be eyeing QB help moving forward. The Bengals have also never been afraid of embracing “distractions,” regardless of whether Kaepernick deserves to be labeled one.
The Browns will have a scout in attendance on Saturday, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.
Baker Mayfield has struggled in his second season and has thrown 12 interceptions through 10 games — which is second in the NFL behind Jameis Winston. The Browns aren’t considering moving on from last year’s No. 1 overall pick, and Cleveland won’t be the only team in attendance on Saturday that is not looking for a new starting quarterback. Browns owner Dee Haslam said on Thursday that having a representative present at the workout was in line with general manager John Dorsey’s philosophy of leaving no stone unturned in trying to improve the roster.
The Broncos will be represented at Kaepernick’s workout, most likely by a scout from their pro personnel department, according to Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post.
Denver isn’t that far removed from trading a fourth-round draft pick for Joe Flacco, who’s under contract through 2022 when he’ll be 36. But it’d be wild if general manager John Elway isn’t looking for some way out of the deal now that the offense has been turned over to reserve Brandon Allen. It should be noted that Elway himself admittedly tried landing Kaepernick back in 2016, even hosting the QB at his home before a potential deal fell through.
The Lions are “willing to turn over any rock to find players who can help,” per MLive.com’s Kyle Meinke, and thus will be at Kaepernick’s workout to “see what he can do.”
Like the Falcons, they don’t seem particularly likely to extend more than a passing glance, however. Longtime starter Matthew Stafford is banged up, but he’s also having an admirable season and is signed through 2022. Backup Jeff Driskel, meanwhile, nearly led a surprise victory in place of Stafford on Sunday and has fared OK in emergency starts before.
The Dolphins appear to be the first team to publicly confirm they’ll be scouting Kaepernick at the workout, with coach Brian Flores telling reporters Wednesday the club will be represented in Atlanta.
Miami might be more in need of QB help than any team outside the Bengals, and for months, people around the NFL have openly speculated about the Dolphins tanking their way to a high 2020 draft pick, which could be used on a top-flight passing prospect. Neither Ryan Fitzpatrick nor Josh Rosen seems likely to stick around for long. Flores was noncommittal when asked whether Kaepernick could have a role on the team, saying he likes Miami’s current QB room but would be open to any improvements.
New England Patriots
The Patriots will have a representative at Kaepernick’s workout, according to the Boston Globe’s Jim McBride.
No, New England isn’t moving on from Tom Brady, maybe the greatest QB of all time. But as CBS Sports’ Jordan Dajani noted this week, Bill Belichick and Co. “have become known for scooping up talent that has been on the outside looking in,” and there’s also no telling whether Brady, 42, could finally call it quits after 2019 — or, for whatever reason, seek a change of scenery. Fourth-round rookie Jarrett Stidham has impressed in limited time, but the Pats simply can never be ruled out when it comes to big-name tryouts.
New York Giants
The Giants are planning to be at Kaepernick’s workout, according to NJ.com’s Matt Lombardo.
Team owner John Mara reportedly — and somewhat infamously — predicted in 2017 that whichever team ultimately signed Kaepernick would face tremendous backlash but also suggested the QB “has some good football left in him.” The Giants are obviously committed to first-round rookie Daniel Jones as their starter, but they’ve got only 38-year-old impending free agent Eli Manning and Alex Tanney, a career backup with just one game on his resume, behind their face of the franchise.
New York Jets
Schefter reported on Thursday that the Jets were one of the first 11 teams to commit to attending Kaepernick’s workout.
Like the Browns, the Jets are already set with their young franchise quarterback, but they could be in the business of looking to upgrade their backup. The Jets fell apart when Sam Darnold missed time earlier this year due to mono. Luke Falk, David Fales and Trevor Siemian all got chances to prove their worth, and all three disappointed.
San Francisco 49ers
Sources reportedly told ESPN that Kaepernick’s former team, the 49ers, will be in attendance for his workout.
This is surprising, considering Kaepernick was the one who opted out of his contract with the team back in 2017, and that the 49ers are doing pretty well without him. The 8-1 49ers appear to be a Super Bowl contender, as they possess one of the best defenses and rushing attacks in the league. Jimmy Garoppolo hasn’t performed like a Pro Bowler, but you can’t argue with his record as a starter.
Sources reportedly told ESPN that the Seahawks will be in attendance for Kaepernick’s workout.
Clearly, the Seahawks aren’t looking to replace MVP hopeful Russell Wilson, and Geno Smith also appears to be a capable backup. In this situation, however, it’s hard to rule out anyone’s team.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Schefter reported on Thursday that the Buccaneers have committed to attending Kaepernick’s workout.
Winston is in the final year of his rookie contract, but it does seem likely that Tampa Bay will extend him. Ryan Griffin is currently slated as Winston’s backup. Bruce Arians love his quarterbacks, and signing someone with experience to come in and help develop Winston could be appealing to him.
A late Wednesday addition to the club, Washington is also set to observe Kaepernick in person, as NBC Sports Washington’s JP Finlay reported.
The Redskins aren’t exactly in dire need of a veteran QB at the moment, considering first-round rookie Dwayne Haskins was just declared the team’s starter for the remainder of 2019 and both Case Keenum and Colt McCoy occupy their bench. And that’s not even mentioning former starter Alex Smith, who hasn’t played since suffering a severe leg injury in November 2018 but is set to earn $21.4 million in 2020 and technically remains under contract through 2022.